Contrivance #7: Bad Boys

A few weeks ago when I started the movie contrivance series, two readers (I can’t remember who now) wrote in with two contrivances about bad boys:

  1. Girl meets guy, girl instantly takes a dislike to guy. Guy does not change and continues to infuriate girl until suddenly girl realised she is in love with said guy.
  2. The bad boy who meets a girl who totally changes his bad boy behavior

In a way, these contrivances are opposites–the first is about a bad boy who does not change, while the second is about the bad boy who ends up showing his softer side.

The thing is, it works. Bad boys make good cinema. I’ll state my case with the ultimate bad boy of all time: Han Solo.

Women like Han Solo because he’s cool, dashing, adventurous, and devil-may-care. Men like Han Solo because he’s the epitome of our ego: he does whatever he wants, says whatever he wants, goes wherever he wants…and he still gets the girl.

But the key is that deep down, Han Solo cares. Imagine if he simply hadn’t returned at the end of Episode IV to help destroy the Death Star (spoiler alert!) We’d have a very different impression of Han today. But for whatever reason–the glory, the thrill of battle, or perhaps the hint of a conscience–Han does return, and we love him for it.

Do Han Solo-like bad boys exist in real life? Maybe. Perhaps you women have dated them. Regardless, I’m perfectly happy for that movie trope to persist. I think it makes great entertainment. Without it, we wouldn’t have Han Solo, Captain Jack Sparrow, or Prince Charmont from Ella Enchanted.

9 thoughts on “Contrivance #7: Bad Boys”

  1. I agree, the bad boy scenario with Han Solo works because he proved he wasn’t selfish by coming back and helping save the day. In real life I have been attracted to bad boys on occasion. I even distrusted and resisted a couple of them at first. However, whenever I made up my mind I wanted nothing to do with a guy because he was either a big jerk or not my type, trying to pester me into changing my mind never worked, and typically backfired by only annoying me more.

    Oh, and I married a truly nice guy with just the tiniest streak of bad boy.

  2. I think this contrivance applies with any charicarure of either gender: Nerds, Jocks, chrreleaders, vampires (see twilight), etc. But this is usually because the character is one dimensional. The character becomes more likable when the audience understands more about the depth of the character. Yes, he’s a jock wrestler, but he picks on kids because his dad drives him to be overly masculine. She may be a freak, but she knows this trick with lipstick. He may be a bad-boy slacker, but he got a carton of cigarettes from his dead-beat family. Yes Paul Gleason’s an a-hole in Breakfast club, but in Van Wilder he’s an A-Hole who thinks Van can succeed (that’s why he’s so hard on Van). We usually like the surprise when people break character.

    • Actually, if you look at the subcontext of the films, Leia’s first choice is Chewbacca. She turns to Luke after several unsuccessful attempts at Wookie lovemaking (see deleted scenes IV.15 and 17).

  3. Love the ELLA ENCHANTED mention. Was not expecting that at all!

    Dated a “bad boy” once…he turned out to be a total basket case. He cried ALL THE TIME. And needed constant reassurance that he was attractive. Kind of put me off bad boys for life.

    • Ha ha…that’s actually the main reference that made me tweet about your blog entry today. 🙂 In all fairness, I haven’t actually seen the movie, but I reference it from time to time here for fun.


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